J filled up the truck and I dropped off the car for service. J picked me up and we headed to the barn.
It is never a good thing to watch the sun come up and reflect off the bank of Mountains just west of the barn. Especially on a Saturday.
J is a rock star when it comes to hooking up the trailer. Ashke was a rock star and walked on after a couple of moments of hesitation. He was really stressed once he was in the trailer. He was shaking and upset. I tried to give him a peppermint and he bit my thumb as he snatched it out of my hand. Little putz. Fletch loaded without any issue and we were off to Diane's. (It was an hour drive.)
Diane starts her evaluation the same way. We released Ashke into her round pen and had him work in each direction. He wasn't real interested in walking, although we got some nice movement in his trot. I then took him in hand and walked him in a circle for Diane. Once we do each direction, we do the walk and trot on the straight away. She agreed that although he is still swinging his right hind leg in a half circle to the inside when he steps, it's not as pronounced as it was the last time she saw him.
After Diane evaluated Ashke, she did the same evaluation on Fletch. Fletch is the reason we went to see Diane. Ashke was in need of a follow-up, but Fletch was the reason to do it now. He has been lame on three feet since Diana bought him. She's done xrays, had multiple vet visits and they can't figure out what is wrong with his legs. The one leg everyone thought was sound was the RF, and that was the one that Diane identified as being the problem.
When they were doing the Walk and Trot on the straight away, Diane saw something she wanted to show Diana, Fletch's rider. I hand walked Fletch up and down so Diane could explain what she was seeing in Fletch's biomechanics. I guess he was doing some kind of z motion with his LF leg. He is compensating with his other three legs for an injury to his right front or some other biomechanical issue that is making him protect his FR leg.
Ashke is always very good with Diane, but likes that she greets him before starting work. The first thing she does is measure the width of the frog at the back of the hoof and compares front to front and back to back. This shows her how he is carrying himself and if he is hitting the ground harder with one foot or the other. I had told her I thought something was going on with his shoulders/wither area and that he was hanging up on the right side.
So, the frog measurements looked like this:
LF 6 RF: 5.5
LH 5.25 RH:5.5
The most interesting thing about this is he is hitting harder on his LF/RH diagonal, which is the first time we've seen that. He's always hit harder on the RF/LH diagonal, because he was protecting his right hip. I think that as he has gotten stronger, he carries himself differently, not needing to protect that right hip as much. That's what his feet were saying, too. Something was going on with him. Time to see if he would tell us.
**As a side note, Fletch's front hoof measurements were LF 5.75 and RF 4.25. His back feet were equal at 6. He is really not letting his weight hit on his RF, which is why he feels lame on all three other legs.
Diane keeps her treats in the red box, so all the horses get very interested when they see her using the red box. They get a treat every time she sticks them. They seem to think it's a fair trade-off.
Next, Diane checks the acupuncture points for Ashke's body. He was mildly reactive at the stomach point (upset about trailering) but that was expected for the situation. He was very reactive on the left hip and sacraliliac joint. She also said he had something going on at the base of his neck (which was probably what I was feeling through his shoulder and withers).
When Diane got to the point above Ashke's flank, he began grooming my shoulder. That whole area was sensitive and he certainly reacted to her being there. She stopped and gave him some scritches, which he loved. She kept telling him to be gentle with me. And he was.
It really amuses me how much he loves to groom me. He does it sometimes when I am grooming him. He really relaxed after this moment and was very responsive to Diane's verbal requests.
He was being very affectionate with me and kept trying to curl me in against him. Overall, he did a great job standing still for Diane.
There were no pain indicators on the right hip, just on the left. Diane also said he had minimal issues, although she wants him off the Strategy. His BCS is 6, but there are some fat deposits she thought could be a concern. The ingredients in Strategy are very non-specific, which means there is a higher risk of sugar being in the food. Although he is only on 2 pounds a day, she thinks it would be better for him (reduces the risk of Cushings or diabetes) to be on Equipride. And Equipride will have all the nutrients he would need. N says it's close to Platinum Performance. (We picked some up and are back to making baggies for the horse. We are mixing it with Timothy hay pellets and the Smartpak for two feedings a day.)
Writing notes is very interesting. I love how his neck and head look here.
Then we checked the teeth. Diane's theory is that if you can get the horse's teeth and feet figured out, every thing else will fall into place, biomechanically. His teeth were still good. He will need to have them done by Syd in March or April and maybe I will make Diane clean his sheath again.
Ashke's poll was also good. We have been lucky in that his poll hasn't had to be adjusted. It can create some issues with the horse, since it changes their balance and how they view the world.
Ashke reacts to Diane manipulating his SI region.
The SI area was sore and definitely needed to be manipulated. Although, Diane did say it was improving and his back is definitely getting stronger. She wasn't happy that we had stopped using the balance system, since his back still needs help. I explained that we went to side reins because he was bending to the outside and we couldn't control that with the bungie system. She thinks that working in side reins isn't enough, since he can stay on the forehand and avoid using his butt correctly. So, going forward, I am going to work him in the side reins, but also connect the breeching from the balance system to the saddle so he is encouraged to bring his hips up under him. She suggested that I ride him that way, but I DON"T THINK SO.
Finally, Diane did stretching to see how flexible Ashke was. She said there was something going on at the base of his neck. That and the SI area were the only two issues Ashke had. YEA!!!
Diane starts the acupuncture treatment by drawing a syringe of blood. She uses that blood to inject into the needles she places in the acupuncture points. It creates the same body condition as cupping does in humans, only instead of drawing the blood to the surface, blood is administered to the points in his body. I don't know much about the use of cupping in people, but I do think this technique works in horses. I've seen some pretty impressive healing with Ashke to back it up.
Diane places needles for treating whatever is going on at the base of his neck. She then injects them with blood.
What's really cool about this process and acupuncture in particular, is that when Ashke's body has utilized the acupuncture it pushes the needles out of his body. One of the ways to tell where there are issues is if the needles are tight in his body and don't want to come out.
You can tell from Ashke's ears that his SI area was more reactive than his chest.
A great way to show how much Ashke trusts Diane. He's not happy with what is happening, but standing still any way.
Once the needles were set, Diane did a laser treatment across Ashke's withers and behind his shoulders. This is deep tissue treatment for the muscles that hold the scapula in place. (We learned there is no cartilage in the shoulder, just muscle holding the scapula in place.)
More laser work on the shoulder. Ashke is digging the work. You can see the line of needles in his hip.
After the laser treatment, Diane pulled out the needles. Some of them were falling out on their own.
Then it was time to move the base of his neck. Diane needed Ashke to position himself so his right leg was forward in order to make the adjustment. It took us asking him a couple of times before he would assume the position. I think he was apprehensive about the adjustment. Diane braced her fist into his shoulder and brought his head around.
When it adjusted you could hear it all the way through the barn. Ashke's head came down and I could see the energy in his body change. He was licking and chewing and seemed relieved at the change. That was what I was feeling and why we had come to see Diane. That adjustment. I can't wait to see how much easier he is on Monday night when I ride again.
After the base of the neck adjustment, Diane asks Ashke to lift through his back, all the way to his withers. Which Ashke did.
Our appointment took about an hour. Then it was Fletch's turn.
Fletch is an OTTB who has presented as lame since Diana bought him. She is riding him with Cassandra, but he hates trying to do dressage. During the evaluation, Diane found that Fletch is protecting his right front leg, but she couldn't really find a reason why he was doing so. Diana said they've had him on Adequan for his hocks, but Diane couldn't find a physical issue with his hocks. Or his legs. Or his back, with the exception of saddle fit. He was reactive in the area you would expect to see if the saddle didn't fit very well. Then Diane looked at his mouth.
It was horrible. He has a horrible overbite and the incisors had overgrown his bottom teeth. He had zero movement in his lower jaw. Not only that, but he had a out of position tooth just behind the row of front teeth. Diane took lots of pictures and texted Syd, asking her to make an emergency and unplanned visit to address Fletch's issue. Syd is a natural dentist, who doesn't use power tools, and she worked on Ashke in March. She came right over.
While we were waiting for her to get there, Diane took us up and showed us her Arabian skeleton in the attic. She showed us how the issues the horse had in her mouth were indicated in both the body and the feet. It was very educational. Then we went down and Diane placed needles for Fletch. Once they were in, Diane started working on her next appointment. I stood around and picked up the needles that Fletch was shedding. The needles in his poll points came out completely corkscrewed. The really bothered him.
Syd got there and got to work. I watched. You could see where the extra tooth in the top of his mouth had worn a divot in the bottom teeth so only the front edge was meeting the incisors. She took that tooth down so it was no longer hanging up on any of the bottom teeth and so it would stop interfering with his lower jaw. You could see when she had released the pressure on Fletch's mouth because the stress just flowed out of his body. Fletch still had a baby tooth in the front rack, with the permanent tooth in the soft tissue behind the front row. The baby tooth was angled funny but not at all loose, so Syd left it there and shaped them so they no longer hung up on his lower jaw. When she was done, Fletch could move his mouth side by side and forward and back without any problems. His whole attitude had changed as well. I wish I could show you what that looks like, but even with a horse I really didn't know, I could feel when he got release from the pressure on his mouth.
We finished up with Fletch and loaded the horses. It was pushing 2:30ish. We stopped at the American Co-op in Brighton on the way home so I could get Timothy hay pellets to use to feed the Equipride. That meant we reached the barn as the sun was sinking in the West.
I was so tired. It took every thing I had to put the horses away, clean out the trailer and park it, drive to the dealership and get my car. J headed home in the truck and I went to Costco. Then I went home and cooked dinner. I was stumbling drunk tired by that time and went to bed at 8. It was a really long day.